RALEIGH — N.C. State needed a night like this, a chance to escape current frustrations and a reason to celebrate greatness.
There was Tommy Burleson on the floor of Reynolds Coliseum, one more time. There was Torry Holt on campus, one more time for the N.C. State Hall of Fame ceremony on Friday night.
The futility of the current football season and Wednesday’s basketball loss were merely a rumor. There was no time for the problems of the present, only a night to relive past glory.
“An event like tonight kind of puts things to the side a little bit and celebrates those who have meant a lot to the university,” said Holt, an All-American receiver for the Wolfpack in 1998.
“I wish it could go on for two or three weeks, but it’s only one night.”
The Old Barn, which will undergo a $35 million facelift in 2015, was gussied up for the formal ceremony of more than 900 people to honor the school’s second hall-of-fame class.
Holt and Burleson were joined by six other athletes and two coaches. Mike Caldwell (baseball), Andrea Stinson (basketball), the late Ronnie Shavlik (basketball) Steve Gregg (swimming), Betty Springs Geiger (cross country, track and field) and Sylvester Terkay (wrestling) were inducted for their accomplishments.
The late Norm Sloan, who led the Wolfpack basketball team to the 1974 national title, and the late Earle Edwards, the winningest football coach in school history, joined the class.
Each inductee was honored with a video of their career highlights and accomplishments. Burleson, who starred with the incomparable David Thompson on the ’74 title team, was delighted to be remembered as a winner, and to go in to the hall with his coach.
“To be remembered as a positive influence on your university, it’s a wonderful privilege and a great honor,” Burleson said.
Burleson added a moment of levity to the proceedings on Friday when he strode on stage, with his 7-foot-2 frame, to accept his hall-of-fame medal. Burleson took a knee in front of chancellor Randy Woodson so he could put the medal around Burleson’s neck.
The night back at N.C. State brought back a plethora of memories for Holt, who finished his career as the ACC’s career leader in receiving yards (3,379) and still holds the school record for catches and touchdown receptions.
Holt led the Wolfpack to a 24-7 upset of second-ranked Florida State in 1998 at Carter-Finley Stadium. More than any detail from the game, Holt remembers what happened afterward.
“People were leaving their homes to come to the stadium to be a part of the celebration,” Holt said. “That was something special.”
Holt, who lives in Raleigh and is still close to the program, said he was hopeful the Wolfpack would end its losing streak in Saturday’s game against East Carolina.
“We’ll enjoy tonight, hopefully the guys will come out tomorrow and play well and play hard and give us something else to be excited about with a win,” Holt said.
N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow also encouraged the crowd to stay patient with the current Wolfpack teams.
“This is not in the script but you hang with us in football and men’s basketball,” Yow said.